A team at Johns Hopkins University created a robot that successfully performed laparoscopic surgery – without human intervention
The study, published in Science Robotics, shows that a robot can perform surgery without the aid of human intervention.
A robot has performed laparoscopic surgery surgery on the soft tissue of a pig, using the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR).
Senior author Axel Krieger, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering, said: “Our findings show that we can automate one of the most intricate and delicate tasks in surgery: the reconnection of two ends of an intestine.
“The STAR performed the procedure in four animals and it produced significantly better results than humans performing the same procedure.”
How did the robot perform the surgery?
The robot was talented at intestinal anastomosis, which needs a surgeon to be really skilled at repetitive motion and precision. Soft-tissue surgery is especially hard for robots because of its unpredictability, forcing them to be able to adapt quickly to handle unexpected obstacles.
Connecting two ends of an intestine is arguably the most challenging step in gastrointestinal surgery, requiring a surgeon to suture with high accuracy and consistency. Even the slightest hand tremor or misplaced stitch can result in a leak that could have catastrophic complications for the patient.
Dr Krieger further commented: “What makes the STAR special is that it is the first robotic system to plan, adapt, and execute a surgical plan in soft tissue with minimal human intervention.”
“Robotic anastomosis is one way to ensure that surgical tasks that require high precision and repeatability can be performed with more accuracy and precision in every patient independent of surgeon skill. We hypothesize that this will result in a democratized surgical approach to patient care with more predictable and consistent patient outcomes.
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